An Alternative to Tearing Statues Down - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
An Alternative to Tearing Statues Down


I wonder how my old pal Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan would view racial relations today were he around. In 1970 he wrote a memo to his boss, President Richard Nixon, counseling a period of “benign neglect” for the discussion of racial issues. Of course the memo was leaked and poor Pat was inundated in obloquy. Aficionados on race relations such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson stepped forward to urge just the opposite approach, and across America for all these years we have been maintaining a “dialogue,” as it is called, on race — a dialogue that sounds suspiciously like a monologue.

Did it work? After all, America elected a black president not once but twice. We have spent over a trillion dollars in the fight against poverty. Dozens of other well-intentioned programs are in place. Still, at this moment in American history I would venture that race relations are as poisonous as ever, possibly more so. Race relations being led by race aficionados such as the Rev. Jackson and his followers certainly are. To my mind Pat Moynihan was right. The less we talked about race, and the more we did about race, would have proved a better alternative. Today there might be less unemployment and mayhem in our urban centers, and America would undoubtedly be a happier place.

Instead we now have the rise of the alt-right, a revived Ku Klux Klan, and Neo Nazis. They are opposed by something called the antifa, a putatively anti-fascist group that manages to look pretty much like fascists to me. Somehow all the dialoguing and the ongoing projects of the aficionados of race have not erased racism. A sudden innovation is to sport bumper stickers decrying “hate,” “racism,” and anti-Semitism. In Alexandria, Virginia where I live huge banners denouncing “Hate” are unfurled across stately old buildings. It looks to me that we are in for another round of “dialogue,” and once again the dialogue will be a monologue convincing only the credulous.

One thing I would like to know is where the alt-right, the Ku Klux Klan, and the Neo-Nazis came from. I have actually never met anyone claiming to be a member of one of the aforementioned groups. I hear people like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi saying that these cretans are conservatives, but I have been a conservative for at least fifty years and have never met a Klansman, a storm trooper, or an alt-rightist. Neither have any of my friends. This might surprise Pelosi.

I do know that every election cycle she and her Democratic demagogues trot out visions of the Klan. Doubtless soon they will be trotting out visions of the Neo-Nazis and the alt-rightists. Where do Nancy and her colleagues encounter such people? Frankly I think they have an obligation to tell us where these zanies can be found.

Now, of course, Nancy and the Democrats are busying themselves with encouraging the elimination of Civil War statues. Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and their compeers are — of a sudden — intolerable examples drawn from America’s hateful past. Democrats want them taken down immediately, but there is a hitch. Were Democrats not, back in the 19th century, for the most part on the side of the Confederacy? Did they not continue during the post-Civil War period to be segregationists? Was not the Roosevelt (Franklin that is) Coalition composed heavily of southern segregationists? And precisely when did these Civil War statues become so intolerable to leading Democrats? If memory serves, some of Pelosi’s contemporaries were actual segregationists and at least one was a youthful member of the Klan. Finally, there was no obsession with these monuments a few years back. Why now?

Right down the street from my home in Alexandria there stands a statue of a Confederate soldier looking south. I find it ironic that in my home — but a stone’s throw away — I have a picture of Abraham Lincoln given to one of my ancestors, a Secret Service officer, for breaking a plot to defile Lincoln’s body. It was a gift from Lincoln’s son, Robert Todd Lincoln. Now demonstrators are milling about the Confederate soldier hoping to tear him down and leave a hole for tourists visiting Old Town.

I have a better idea. Why not erect another monument nearby as a fitting tribute to people who did some good in the fight for desegregation in Virginia. How about raising a memorial to Mildred and Richard Loving, who in 1967 successfully challenged the miscegenation laws of the state? Mildred was black, and Richard was white. What is more they were in love. I bet you could find similar examples all over America from our supposedly sordid past.

Raising images of love as opposed to images of hate such as the Neo-Nazis might be a refreshing break with the Democrats’ present project, eh Nancy?

R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.
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R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. is the founder and editor in chief ofThe American Spectator. He is the author of The Death of Liberalism, published by Thomas Nelson Inc. His previous books include the New York Times bestseller Boy Clinton: The Political Biography; The Impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton; The Liberal Crack-Up; The Conservative Crack-Up; Public Nuisances; The Future that Doesn’t Work: Social Democracy’s Failure in Britain; Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House; The Clinton Crack-Up; and After the Hangover: The Conservatives’ Road to Recovery. He makes frequent appearances on national television and is a nationally syndicated columnist, whose articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun, Washington Times, National Review, Harper’s, Commentary, The (London) Spectator, Le Figaro (Paris), and elsewhere. He is also a contributing editor to the New York Sun.
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